I had a farm in Kenya … at the time I lived there it was a rural place known as the “bush”. There was a rule in the bush every one knew, “Day is for people; night is for animals”. When the sun went down at about 7 every night, we finished our tea on the veranda and went inside because no telling what would show up in the next few hours. There might be a marauding leopard jumping over the fence for a sheep and you could count on hyenas showing up sniffing out anything edible and calling their clan with their eerie woo-oop.
Soon the kings of the bush would start their evening trek for food – the kings of the bush were our local resident elephants. During the day they stayed deeper in the bush in the best shade they could find and you could not see them unless you were taking a shortcut and then they would see you first or smell you first. They usually came around our place because there was a soda pool at the bottom of our hill that provided all the minerals animals needed to supplement their routine diet. Our elephants also knew about a local vine that only grew in this area and may have provided something else special in their diet, or maybe just tasted good. You could not hear them walking because they have soft pads on their feet, but you know they’re coming because the bush crackles as they step on the dry oleleshua branches. The elephants pretty much minded their own business but they knew they ruled. This land was theirs. They had been coming through here for hundreds of years when fences were unknown and human life were small groups of Maasais whose lifestyle was compatible with theirs. Elephants did not compete with Maasais for land and in fact they fed on the local bush symbiotically with the Maasais’ cattle balancing the browsing/grazing ecosystem.
Elephants came here to have their babies and considered this place home. It was pretty much perfect for both people and animals. But then human settlement in the area began to consistently and relentlessly increasing and move the elephants deeper in the bush. When the few elephants around wanted water they were chased away with fire torches and pan banging so the newly planted tomato crop would be salvaged. Their access to water was slowly disappearing.
Today, what we knew in the bush is no longer true. That was when people did not have cars and guns. Now,” day is for people and night is for animals” is false. Well, maybe the “day” part is true, but the night now includes animals and poachers. It is at night that snares are set and weapons brought out to kill animals for their tusks.
Today, elephants are no longer seen in our area. Not even occasionally in the evening. Gone. Done. No more. And in fact the river they used to drink from is also Gone. Done. No more. This is now the life we see here.
The increase in the human population has nearly decimated the entire Kenya wildlife habitat and the poor or non-existent rural economy has pushed people toward poaching, sharply increasing the demise of the elephant population. Many experts predict the disappearance of the elephant population in the Maasai Mara and Mara buffer zone in ten years or less, unless the few extraordinary local wildlife conservationists gain the resources needed to win the battle. Many of these folks began their conservation work many years ago out of pure love for these amazing creatures and their organizations developed because others began to see now what they saw a long time ago. The WellBeing Foundation shares their love of wildlife and is working to stop elephant and rhino poaching, and protecting and nurturing the youngsters left behind.
We are working to support The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an exemplary organization, and invite you to join us as we help provide the resources necessary to continue their love for elephant well-being.